A group had gathered there and were praying aloud. I hesitated, but then entered, realizing it wasn't "closed". I hoped they'd soon be done.
I found a hidden spot in a back corner, but I was distracted. The one place I counted on to be peaceful was instead provoking me. I expected soft music, but it wasn't playing - it had been turned off and instead all I could hear were these people praying, praying, praying. Louder and louder. Would they ever stop? They used all sorts of fancy language and egged each other on with amens and "mm hmms". It worked on my soul like a constant dripping.
A half hour passed. A rage brewed inside me. I wanted to rip things off the walls. I wanted to hear glass shattering. I wanted to punch someone or something. And I wanted to scream. I could hardly contain it.
They went on and on,
"You control every single thing that happens, and You do nothing wrong ever, and every single thing that comes from You is good and right, forgive us for not believing that, we proclaim today that You do all and You do all things well and we are the ones who cannot see it... one day we'll know that everything was exactly as it should have been and we will no longer question...we will approve all You do, and You do all"
On the outside, I wept bitter tears - on the inside, I swore at them.
"You are wrong! I reject you and your sick twisted beliefs! I reject the very suggestion that the God who indwells my Spirit and shapes my heart expects me to look at something horrible and call it "good". It's not good! It's not good that my friend died alone and in despair - and you people, would you have accepted him into your little prayer group? Would you have even been able to see God in him? The way gay people are expected to stay "outside the camp" is not good! It's not good that my 2 year old niece is suffering through chemo and a 104 degree fever! It's not good that this very moment a child is being abused! It's not good that people are starving to death, scared to leave their homes, are enslaved, wallow in institutions, have lost all hope that their lives will ever change because they pray for help and help never comes... it's not good! And heaven? You're saying I won't care about all this anymore! That I'll have some kind of lobotomy, that a switch will all of a sudden flip in my brain and all these things will be "good" and "right" to me because it was for God's "glory". Well, keep your heaven - I don't want it! Because that sounds like HELL to me! I hope I NEVER become that cold unfeeling person!"
At some point, a scripture came to mind: the story Jesus told, contrasting two men praying. One prayed drawn out, impressive prayers - loudly so all could hear.
"Yeah, that! See! Even Jesus said ... hang on, wait... wait a second"
The other man prayed alone. He beat his breast and prayed...
"What did he pray?
What did he pray?"
Lord, have mercy on me - a sinner.
A flood: Realization. Shame. Confession. Penance. Humility.
I am not the good-guy in this Bible story.
Not to say I don't continue to wrestle with those very honest things, because I do. But oh God - to love my point more than people. To have squinty, accusing eyes. To believe I am more right and more righteous than another. Hideous, ugly, sick-soul puffed up Pharisee pride. I reject that. I reject it.
Forgive. Rid. Change.
Lord, have mercy. Your mercy is great. Have mercy on us all.